NewsCred’s inaugural #ThinkContent Awards celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Their approaches are fresh, innovative, and creative. Even better, these brands have found solutions to some of content marketing’s most pressing issues, including using personalization to give people the right content at the right time, leveraging new content formats, and measuring ROI.

Case studies, also known as testimonials, are your opportunity to tell the story of a customer who succeeded in solving a problem by working with you. A case study is perhaps your most versatile type of content marketing because it can take many different forms -- some of which are on this list. That's right, case studies can take the form of a blog post, ebook, podcast ... even an infographic.
Content marking is creating content that can be shared with customers through various forms. Examples include videos, blog posts, and how-to guides. The content shared must be relevant, engaging and informative. Businesses use content marking to reach new customers and retain existing customers. Traditional marketing and content marketing are not the same!
The definition of content marketing further depends on your viewpoint and background. A B2B marketer, looking to generate and nurture leads, for instance, might look differently at it than a brand marketer, looking to cause a shift of brand perception, or a search engine optimization practitioner, trying to increase organic ranking of content in search engines. However, the rules of good content marketing and essential strategies and principles are very much alike in most cases.
According to Brafton, “83% of digital marketers plan to increase audience engagement and promote brand visibility through native ads.” If you want to join them as part of your content marketing strategy, make sure your ad is consistent with your other content. Above all, native ads should meet the needs of your readers and engage the audience, just like your other content does.

Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.
Great article Sarah. I think that a key theme all of these great content marketing strategies have in common is humour; humour has universal appeal and is a very effective way of getting audiences to talk about and share your content. Of course your content marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive and well executed, and for businesses without the staff capacity I would recommend outsourcing your digital marketing needs to skilled freelancers.
Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”

When content marketing started becoming increasingly popular, it was believed by some that content marketing would be a passing fad, among others given the huge increase of content created. Early observers and practitioners called this the ‘content marketing backlash‘. Another term – that expressed this sentiment, was introduced later and was contested by Joe Pulizzi – was ‘content shock‘.


In honor of all things inbound, consider how your business can use video as a medium to bring the right talent to your office. Rather than drop bait in the form of a newspaper advertisement, or static pitch on an online job board, a recruitment video can be used to expand your reach, while making known the type of environment applicants can expect to work in.
Through content that brings that ethos to life, Clif Bar has nurtured legions of fans. Recent stories include a profile of two Clif Bar-sponsored athletes who set out to raise $100,000 for Bears Ears National Monument, an article on Clif Bar employees achieving 100,000 hours of volunteering, and a big rock piece of content about The Great Trail, a 15,000-mile network of trails across Canada.
When it comes to companies that lead with their values, Ben & Jerry's has long been at the forefront. It's not afraid to take a stance on pressing political issues, including racial justice, refugees, climate change, voting rights, and LGBT equality. Its content hub reflects the company's commitment. Amid posts about ice cream recipes and new flavors, there are regular stories that align with Ben & Jerry's values, like "10 Things Trump Gets Wrong About Refugees," "QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Climate Change?" and "7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real."
Owned media is any content that your company creates and publishes via your company’s assets. This could be in the form of blog content, whitepapers, website copy, sales collateral, email and social media campaigns, or more. While you can fully control this content, not every piece should be a sales pitch in disguise — it’s still important to deliver value to your audience and build its trust.
Sometimes, the simplest option is the best option. The Content Marketing Institute has put together the layout for a one-page marketing plan that will help your brand assemble its first content marketing plan. They stress the importance of sticking to just a single sheet of letter-sized paper. Otherwise, it’s possible to go too in-depth and get bogged down in the details.
In 2017, NewsCred launched the Top 50 Awards to celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Whether hot new startups or global giants, these brands were the ones with splashy, interactive content hubs that drove conversions, stellar social media presences, innovative new technology integrations, and strong behind-the-scenes strategies and measurement plans. They were brands that inspired us to push the boundaries with our own content marketing.
There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.

Determine where you’ll submit your content. This could be for your own blog or another publication in your industry. Create a list of potential publications, and carefully research the guidelines for each outlet. Putting together an article and shopping it around to half a dozen publications won’t get you anywhere; however, by understanding what each publication is looking for, you can create custom content that provides value for the audience and increases your chance of acceptance. 
The site is bright and bold in its design – finally giving corporate a chance to look and feel like consumer publishing – with a balance of sports, business, and lifestyle content that works to engage the athletes among today’s workforce. Long-form writing hits it out of the park as well, like the team’s visually stunning interactive site, The GamePlan A Guide to Creativity, which has racked up 3,500 social shares and counting, and is packed with valuable information, ideas, and illustrations.
Content marketing is an umbrella term. This means that it can be used for numerous reasons and can mean many things to many people. It’s less tangible than search engine marketing, for instance. This is exactly the reason why you need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content – and content strategy – too much and not seeing the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to a focus on the wrong things.
Since then, Marriott has delivered on that goal, with many of its brands releasing bespoke films dedicated to further their reputations and drive revenue. The 2015 short film, "French Kiss," for example, drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days. Renaissance Hotels has released two seasons of "The Navigator’s Table with Andrew Zimmern," which highlights the chef meeting with tastemakers in different cities. Courtyard by Marriott showcases its status as the official hotel for the NFL through a video series that has racked up more than 1 million YouTube views.
Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences.

A simple checklist can significantly improve your content quality. It’s a tool that should be in every marketer’s toolkit. By creating a quality checklist as part of your strategy, you and your stakeholders will determine a set of standards that align with your content marketing goals. By committing them to writing, you’ll have benchmarks to which you can hold your work. By distributing the checklist, you’ll ensure that contributors know what you expect from them. And by sharing the checklist with others in your organization, they’ll understand what you’re looking to achieve with your content.
We'll show you the basic steps of a content audit here. If you're looking for a deeper dive, check out this guide from Distilled and this more SEO-focused one from Everett Sizemore. In addition, Michael King has a great presentation that takes a deep dive into the use of personas in content audits with a solid look at some helpful tools, and Inflow has a helpful chart to focus your auditing efforts.
It can come in long-form (such as blogs, articles, ebooks, and so on), short-form (such as Twitter updates, Facebook updates, images, and so on), or conversational-form (for example, sharing great content via Twitter or participating in an active discussion via blog comments or through an online forum). Susan Gunelius – KeySplash Creative, Inc., author of Content Marketing for Dummies
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